Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My son lives with me now.

In what is undoubtedly the biggest change in my life in years, my oldest son (now 18) has moved in with Matt and I. He's going to finish high school here with us, and then we'll see where he ends up for college and whatnot.

It's strange having him here, but good. Like most teenagers, he must be lured out of his room with food and activity, drawn back inevitably like the tide when these things are finished. Between being introverted and having his own room for the first time in ages and ages, he's busy inhabiting his space and has little time for anything else if given his druthers.

As for me, I have assumed the mom mantle again like a familiar robe, slipping it on even as I attempt to treat him more as an adult. Some of my efforts to do so are made more difficult by the issues that brought him out to me again, admittedly, issues that have to do with his ability to handle adult life and school and time management and environments too full of sound and fury, to be poetic about sensory issues for a moment. The fact is that for all that his birth certificate declares him to be 18, he is not quite ready to be 18 yet. He does not have the skills for 18 yet. So we walk a line between teaching him skills most people his age have picked up by osmosis and giving him the respect due to someone for making it to the age of legal majority without any significant hiccups.

One of the things that's both familiar and challenging is trying to give him the tools I've developed for coping with stuff over the years in ways that a) don't seem provoking and b) are useful to him. I don't know if he's had any support for dealing with his autism while he's been living with his dad -- I suspect not. So we're revisiting a lot of the skills he learned back when he was seeing a therapist -- breaking tasks down, trying to imagine things from multiple perspectives, figuring out where communication isn't happening with the outside world but needs to, getting a grasp on how long things take and how to track them to make sure they happen.  There's also issues with getting in better touch with his body -- we're working on mastering shaving, for example -- and figuring out routines that will stand him in good stead and how to establish them again once they've been disrupted.

Also also, there's all the medical/dental/vision stuff to be caught up: he was behind on a scheduled immunization for Ohio, he needed to see a dentist, he needs new glasses. All of which we can handle, but which requires oversight and which he is not prepared to see to himself yet. He's been looking for summer jobs and had some interviews, but he's figured out that yes, his social anxiety is getting in the way, and we're now working with a therapist to figure some of that out.

In the midst of all this, I find myself oddly both overwhelmed again and content. I know this pattern; I know this routine. He is my gentle, funny, punny son who lives largely in his own head and reminds me so much of me as a kid. I have missed having my children with me. I have missed my sons. I still miss my other boy, who is having a hard time without his brother, and who I am there for as much as I can be. But having this again... it is more than I thought I would have again, and I will cherish it. I have not lost my son -- he has found his way home again.